Two years ago, Megan Pete was a college student with a sultry alter ego and a burgeoning side hustle as a rapper. The TSU health administration major was already the campus it-girl and a rising force within hip hop early adoption circles.

Today, following the May 17 release of her debut album Fever, Megan Thee Stallion is making a case for herself as hip hop’s it-girl of 2019.

Both lyrically and sonically the project is more of what we’ve come to expect (and crave) from Thee Stallion. Its 14 tracks are a steady barrage of bombastic sexual confidence; a master class in lyrical boasting.

From cover to cover the LP delivers infectious hit after hit of songs likely to feature in Houston strip clubs for years to come. However, Megan’s raunchy and sexually aggressive lyricism is more than mere self expression. Her lyrical content is a conscious effort at flipping the narrative of an industry that has long treated women as little more than sex props.

In an interview with Rolling Stone the rapper explains her female perspective on explicit sexual content: “You let the boys come up in here and talk about how they gon’ run a train on all our friends and they want some head and they want to shoot everything up… Well, we should be able to go equally hard. I don’t want to hear none of that.”

Fever opens with it’s first single, “Realer”, a two-and-a-half minute proclamation of the MC’s intentions, expectations and motivations. Its subdued and bass heavy production leaves room for Megan’s vocals to shine as the clear focal point of the track. In its opening verse, the rapper proclaims, “Ni**as aint real when the shit really counts, that’s why I keep my lil cat in they mouth,” a loud and clear indication of what to expect over the next 40 minutes.

Some singular track highlights include “Hood Rat Shit”, “Simon Says” (ft Juicy J), and “Money Good.” Perhaps the three most catchy hooks on the album, this trio of tracks represents the best of Thee Stallion’s hit making abilities. On “Simon Says,” the Houston native shows off her New Orleans bounce influences with a raunchy twerk anthem that has second line parade written all over it.

“Sex Talk” stands out as the no holds barred sexual power statement of the project. Megan comes across as a lyrical and literal dominatrix, with a set of verses that cross an invisible line between explicit and pornographic. The unapologetic confidence with which she crosses that line is enough to make any male listener blush — an intentional and well-executed effect.

In her short career, Megan Thee Stallion has been widely praised for managing to avoid the trappings of cliche female MC identities: either the bootylicious trap queen or the sexually reserved intellectual. Both a college student and a hood-wise Houston girl, a twerk queen and a gifted lyricist, Megan Pete plays both roles. From moment to moment, track to track, she sets her own rules and crafts her own identity. And yet, she’s not the trailblazer some make her out to be.

Those praising her rap persona would do well to remember the careers of Lil Kim, Remy Ma, Left Eye, and more recently the early days of Nicki Minaj’s career. When Minaj exploded onto the mainstream with her hall of fame verse on Kanye’s 2010 “Monster,” her critical reception was as enthusiastic and prophetic as Megan Thee Stallion’s is today.

Sadly the years have not been kind to Minaj’s rap credentials. She became the poster child for the empty industry sex cliche she came out in defiant contradiction of. While this debut by Megan Thee Stallion is a powerful and entertaining statement of both female empowerment and lyrical prowess, we can only hope the inevitable fame won’t corrupt her authenticity, nor her hard-earned respect on the mic.

While the trail she walks has been blazed by many talented female rappers who came before, that’s not to say it can’t be widened, improved upon or otherwise reinvented. There is still far too little female representation among the rafters of hip hop greatness. Megan Thee Stallion seems poised and prepared to carry that mantle.